Recently Horace called me out of the blue, in tears because she had had a medical shock – I won’t go into details because she wouldn’t want me to. What I wanted to relate was the speed of the NHS response. It was outstanding and I can only think she has received great protection from the universe.
As a result of her surgery and an ensuing infection she needed antibiotics, so she hobbled into her local pharmacy and passed over her prescription at a busy time.
When the prescription had been made up, the assistant, a lady whose first language was not English, almost threw the packet at Horace saying, ‘Read the leaflet and don’t go out in daylight.’
‘Not go out in daylight?’ queried Horace.
‘You mean I can’t go out during the day?’
Horrace was turning to leave thinking that she would read the drug leaflet very carefully, when the Pharmacist leaned out from where she was working, with one finger raised to get Horace’s attention.
I think what my colleague means,’ she said, ‘Is that if you are in the sun, put on a bit of extra sunscreen.’
As you know if you read this blog, I am generally upbeat. I hope this comes across in my posts. Today, however, I feel sad, almost moved to tears by what is going on in the UK. I don’t want to call it My Country because I am not and never have been nationalistic.
What saddens me most, is the apparent greed and self-interest that has taken over our politics. Although history tells us that our wealth in the West has been built at the expense of other, less developed countries, hence slavery, the Raj, South Africa and so on, in latter years – my lifetime and that of my parents – I have seen Britain as a country that does the right thing – the decent thing. OK there’s always been greed, but it has been tempered by our parliamentary democracy and the freedom of our press. Britain’s ability to stick to the agreement, even if it was uncomfortable, has made me feel secure that my values are more or less echoed by the government, whichever party is in power. Now however, we have a Tory party run by too many self-interested, greedy members and their representatives, and a Labour party with a leader, seemingly interested only in obtaining power by default. Jeremy Corbyn has leapt on the possibility of leading an interim government. He sits on the fence about Labour policies and at every stage has ignored the opinion of his party, that his position as opposition leader is what stands in the way of Labour gaining power. The country is divided, and in my opinion, our political choice sits between a furnace and a forest fire.
There is another way though, a middle way as we call it in SGI Buddhism. The SGI is a peace organisation run on Buddhist principles. Recently, I attended an SGI talk, possibly one outlining the latest annual peace proposal by Daisaku Ikeda – I can’t be sure. In this talk, one thing that made me prick up my ears was this (I am paraphrasing): It is much easier for evil people to gather together and gain strength, than for good people to do the same. We are now experiencing the truth of this. There is a saying, that we get the government we deserve, but I would say that we get the government voted in by the strongest, and that, at the moment, is the most angry and greedy.
I feel so sorry for the world, but I will chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with determination, for the return of leaders with the attributes of wisdom, courage and compassion. Good people can and will make a difference. Each of us has a responsibility to stand up peacefully in our daily lives for the truth. To educate ourselves and seek to understand both sides of the argument. Not to take at face value what we are told in the media. To be motivated by the needs of others as well as ourselves. As President Ikeda said, ‘All fear vanishes the moment we believe with all our hearts, I alone am the scriptwriter of my life.’ (SGI newsletter 7891)“
This morning I spent an enjoyable hour browsing old photos in search of one of Horace wearing wellies.
Last weekend Whizz and I visited Horace and Kerching in their home in Canalshire, a place with only one canal, named after its county town of Clanaster. Are you with me?
While Magicbhunkshire was an oasis of sunshine in an otherwise flooding and windy country, In Canalshire, it was ‘hissing’ down.
Undaunted, we decided to go to a local and amazing Food Festival in Clitheroe. I’m not making an anagram of this because I think you should visit next time you fancy a weekend away. Clitheroe is very pretty and the food festival was incredible. Every street was lined with stalls run by local food and drink producers, about 140 all told. Despite the torrential rain we managed to enjoy samples of caramel vodka, wine, gin, fudge, cheese and more.
Before we left there was some discussion about what footwear to put on. I had little choice having brought only trainers and sandals. Horace hoped she wouldn’t have to walk all day in wellies but in the end, decided they were a necessary evil.
Standing at the bottom of the stairs she dipped her toe into the top of a boot, not looking at what she was doing because she was talking to me.
‘Erm,’ I said, ‘You’re putting your wellies on the wrong feet.’
I didn’t think I would still have to help my 30-year-old daughter get her footwear the right way round.
nobody warns you about the inconvenience. Well, perhaps they do but you are too in love with the soft bundle of sweetness to believe it could ever be anything but delightful. It’s a bit like having a baby really.
I was soon disabused of this view when Whizz went to South ‘Ifrica’ to work, and left me, in the snow and mud, to house train the above ‘bundle of sweetness’. I have already talked about this here, so I won’t go on about it.
Milo, now nearly 10, hasn’t become any less demanding. He follows me tirelessly around the kitchen waiting for dropped scraps and acting as a trip hazard. As an obsessive foodie (like me) he once nicked a lb of sausages that were waiting to be barbecued by a dog sitter (I have never done this despite being tempted), and on another occasion stole half of Mavis’s newly iced birthday cake from where it sat on the work top. He achieved this by taking flying leaps at it and carving it into a wedge shape with the side of his mouth. Tumbleweed balls of moulted fur float all over the house, and that’s without his demands for entertainment with tug of war toys and a laser pointer that sends him, literally, round and round the bend. Being Labrador crossed with Border Collie he needs a considerable amount of walking and ball throwing and when he gets over heated, he wallows in mud to cool off, as you see here. Sorry about my voice!
Basically, I thought we had experienced every disadvantage possible until two days ago when he worked out how to open the food recycling bin and ate most of its contents including chicken bones and the best part of a buttercream covered chocolate cake.
Both chicken bones and chocolate are dangerous for dogs and Whizz ‘whizzed’ him off to the Vet’s. There Milo remained to be observed and have an X-ray, which revealed that his body was finding it difficult to digest what he had swallowed. Two injections and a course of tablets later and he came home with a copy of the bill.
He peed in the garden for maybe a minute, deposited a number of huge brown logs on the lawn and seemed to feel a lot better.
His final aberration was this afternoon at the beautiful chalk meadow where we often walk him. It was an unhappy coincidence that I had come out in a hurry without poo bags.
He began to give birth to the food bin liner: about a metre long, slimy rope of green plastic that refused to part from his arse. He bowled towards me with 30 cm swinging behind, spraying brown globules from side to side. I got ready to run but this proved unnecessary as he was worried about the situation and every now and again squatted to relieve himself. But the damn thing wasn’t budging.
It was fortunate that I had a tissue stuffed into my ‘special pocket’ and was able to assist with the delivery.
If you find the horrible article among the flowers and mistake it for a snake, I apologise deeply. I really disapprove of anyone leaving ‘crap’ in the quarry and promise to return tomorrow with the proper dog walking equipment and put it in the poo bin where it belongs.
Watching the D Day Commemorations encouraged my mum to share some memories I don’t think I have heard before. This is surprising, because she does share a lot of memories – a lot of times (joke Dad).
Mum was aged 14 on D Day. Her own dad, whom she always refers to in a rather Enid-Blyton-esque way as Father (and her mum as Mother), served in both wars. We children called our grandfather Bampy. He started out as Grampy but that was hurriedly changed when we thought it very funny to call him Grumpy.
I don’t know why we called him Grumpy. I don’t remember ever finding him so, although other members of my family may differ in their opinions of him. My memories of the man – a somewhat straight-laced fellow with a military air, who is now long gone, having passed away at the age of 99 – are of sitting on his knee while he pressed his warm, smooth, pocket watch to my ear to hear it tick. Later I recall his delight at my visits from Sheep Country, especially when I brought my new daughter toddling across his threshold (she is 30 now!)
In WW1 Bampy was at Ypres. I have a copy of the Wipers Times brought back by him when his time in the trenches was over. When he got home he stripped off and told Nanna to burn his clothes. He slept outside for some time. Perhaps the peace and birdsong acted as a balm.
In WW2, as an architect, he had a reserved profession so escaped active service. Instead he became part of the Home Guard.
Because he had military experience he was made a Sergeant and found himself in command of a gaggle of men not unlike those in the 1960s and 70s TV series, Dad’s Army.
From what I can gather, the Home Guard was very similar to its depiction in Dad’s Army. Bampy’s men had little idea of what constituted a platoon, or indeed the meaning of discipline or rules. On one occasion they were given a rifle. I don’t know where it came from but Bampy was responsible for training his men in its use. One man held it to his shoulder and focused his eye through the sight at whatever he was aiming at. The rest of the group gathered around to watch.
At the last minute, one hapless (or is it stupid?) fellow, decided to check the view the gunner would have. He put his head in the line of fire and was shot through the nose.
On another occasion the platoon was to practice an assault on a neighbouring village. The plan was for Bampy to spend the night in a guest house in the village and creep out at night to meet the rest of his motley band. Don’t ask me why he had to stay in the village, or where the others were. Anyway, at the allotted hour he rose from his bed, dressed in camouflage and tiptoed along the landing, to be confronted by a snarling German Shepherd dog at the bottom of the stairs. This brought the operation to an abrupt end.
The family lived in Burgess Hill, which was within a certain number of miles from the sea. This meant that access was restricted. All the beaches were covered with loops of barbed wire, and some were also dotted with land mines.
Mum went to school outside the zone. She travelled by train. When she stepped onto the platform on her way home she was required to show her ID. Bampy commuted daily to London and was subjected to the same rule. Their ID’s were different . His was for an adult and hers for a child.
Nanna’s sister, Gladys, was married to Clifford, a dim and alcoholic chap who also served on the home front as part of the anti-invasion force. His duty was to watch for enemy ships and planes from a pill box (Who knew there was so much to learn about pill box design?)
One man stood on the roof while the other, in this case Clifford, remained inside. I don’t know if Clifford was bored, or perhaps he was practising his gun skills, which I doubt he learned from Bampy. However, Clifford managed to fire his gun through the roof of the pill box, narrowly missing the poor chap above, who was minding his own business studying the horizon.
When at home, my mum, as a member of the Girl Guides, would carry out duties to support the war effort. These included delivering local mail and picking up litter. Knowing all these small details helps me to visualise her life and I am grateful that these moving D Day commemorations have allowed me to hear her stories.